Overall Vs. Coverall: Differences and Which One You Should Choose

Overall vs Coverall

Did you know that 98.9% of the world’s population think overall and coverall are the same thing?

How would you react if I told you that 88% of the world’s population think the only difference between overall and coverall is regional usage? Indeed, nearly 9 persons out of 10 believe people in certain countries call them overall, while the others call them coverall.

What is the rationale behind this confusion? Why do people think they refer to the same thing? Are there any differences? And if so, what are they?

The difference between overalls and coveralls is that overalls are like trousers attached to a vest that only covers from your chest downwards and is held by two straps that hang on your shoulders, while coveralls protect your entire body from the neck down.

If you’re one of those people who think overalls and coveralls are the same thing, don’t feel ashamed, you’re not alone. A while ago, I could argue endlessly about them being the same thing as well. It got so bad that a friend needed coveralls for work and I got him a pair of overalls. Although, it wasn’t entirely my fault because he couldn’t tell the difference between them either.

In this article, I’ll be highlighting the key differences between overalls and coveralls, their functions, and how to identify which one you need.


What Are Overalls?

Simply put, overalls are a piece of clothing that was tailored to meet the demands of handypersons who worked in rigorous conditions that required some protection for their legs and regular clothes, and allowed them the freedom to move their hands at will. The creators of this outfit wanted workers to protect their outfits and bodies from dirt and contact with dangerous substances.

Overalls are loose trousers attached to a vest with shoulder straps and large pockets (for tools) and worn over clothes to keep them protected while carrying out various activities.

Overalls became a big deal in the late 70s because of how effective they were for workers who were doing manual labor. Overalls were created for workers who needed durable work clothes that could withstand dirt and friction because of their jobs’ nature. These workers could wear them for long periods without needing other work clothes. At that point, overalls were purely made of denim. The rate at which these dungarees (another name for overalls) caught on was astonishing.

Nowadays, overalls are more than just work clothes. They’ve advanced into casual clothes that people wear for social gatherings. They’re produced in diverse materials, which makes them lighter, fashionable, and appealing.

The easiest way to identify overalls on someone is to look for a loose-fitting cloth, see if their hands are visible, or spot a shirt underneath, which can stick out from the shoulders. If you can see all of these, they are undoubtedly wearing overalls.

The primary use of overalls is to protect clothes from extreme conditions. But what most people don’t know is that overalls are also perfect for keeping your legs and chest warm while working in the snow. It’s not as thick as winter clothes, but to a reasonable extent, it keeps the body warm.


Bib overalls are a good choice of clothing for winter activities because of the warmth and protection that they provide. If you still don’t have one of your own, we definitely recommend that you get one. If you’re not sure which overall to get, check out our article about the best insulated bib overalls where we shared our top recommendations. 


What Are Coveralls?

Coveralls are a protective garment that covers your body from the neck downwards, including your arms, to keep it protected while working in extreme weather and work conditions. The key difference between overalls and coveralls is that coveralls were created solely for people working in specific fields to protect them well.

If you flip the script and use overalls in place of coveralls for skin protection, it can’t have any significant impact because overalls expose the body from the chest down to your hands. The exposed area makes overalls unable to carry out the function of coveralls. This is why flipping the script and using one in place of the other is a bad idea.

Coveralls are designed to keep you safe while you effortlessly carry out your activities. Think of them as protective armors for your body.

Suppose you work in a chemical plant where various chemicals are mixed and moved around. Coveralls are most suitable because they protect your whole body, unlike overalls that leave your hands and shoulders exposed. Coveralls are also called boiler suits because they’re carefully designed to protect your body in extreme conditions.

Coveralls come in various designs. Some are crafted for cold weather, some for hot regions, and others for air and space travels.

If you’ve watched any military-themed movie, you will notice that fighter pilots always wear such clothes that cover them from their neck downwards. They wear these flight suits to keep their body warm in the cold temperatures of high altitudes.

The chances of seeing a combat pilot wearing overalls, a white shirt, and a pair of red sneakers to fly a fighter jet is near impossible. It would be like seeing a firefighter wearing flip flops while putting out a fire.

Whenever you want to differentiate coveralls and overalls, visualize the uniforms that astronauts, pilots, and chemical engineers wear. Keeping this in mind will help you understand their distinct features and why one cannot replace the other.


Differences Between Overalls and Coveralls

Although both clothes sound alike, they refer to two completely different things. In the past, I tagged any shirt, jacket, or cardigan that covered a significant part of the body overalls. I could’ve done a little research to find out the differences between them, but I guess I found solace in my ignorance. As the saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss.”

To avoid making the same mistake, we will further discuss the differences between overalls and coveralls.

  1. Appearance

One key difference between overalls and coveralls is their appearances. If you’re familiar with the attributes of both garments, it’s almost impossible to mix them up. Indeed, overalls do not extend to the hands. Instead, they hang on your shoulders with two straps. On the other hand, coveralls extend to your hands and cover your skin appropriately. Besides, overalls are loose-fitted, while coveralls are fitted.

Appearance is the simplest way to differentiate them. Once you’ve successfully assimilated the peculiarities of both, identifying and telling them apart becomes effortless.

  1. Functionality

Another way to differentiate overalls and coveralls is by understanding their functions. Coveralls’ key function is to protect anything underneath. The chances of seeing someone wearing coveralls casually is .01% as it is not an outfit that can be worn to a chemical plant in the morning and a dinner date later in the day.

On the other hand, although overalls are also worn to protect outfits from stains and extreme conditions, they don’t quite go as far as coveralls. If you work in a dusty library, you will need a pair of overalls to protect your clothes from dust, for example. However, you can’t make use of coveralls in this context because it’s not ideal. It would be like showing up to the beach with safety goggles, a helmet, safety boots, and knee guards.

In succinct terms, overalls are a domestic version of coveralls. For intense activities, like trying to break boundaries in aerospace engineering, you need coveralls. But, for uncomplicated activities, like changing the oil in your car, repainting your living room, or working on your farm, overalls are the most suitable choice.

  1. Casual Appeal

Coveralls are a work attire that cannot be worn outside its sole purpose. The chances of seeing a firefighter casually wearing their coveralls to a birthday party or a random get-together are near zero. Unless it’s Halloween, when coveralls would be a perfect fit, no one would wear them in the streets. Try not to break the fashion barriers by purchasing a pair of coveralls instead of overalls for your next outing. It is a fashion offense that has severe repercussions.

Unlike coveralls, overalls can be worn casually without any backlash. In the early 90s, they even became a big deal in the fashion world. Pairing them up with nice boots and dashing headgear made you look like the next fashion icon. At that time, it served the function of keeping the body slightly warm and making people look cool.

Some brands are going the distance by designing easy-to-wear overalls with more layers to keep you warm yet still comfortable. The best thing about these insulated overalls is that they come in various sizes, catering to diverse age groups.

  1. Industry Specificity 

Whenever you see a person wearing a camouflage jacket or shorts, you immediately think the person has some affiliation with the military or that they might be showing appreciation for those in active military service.

In the same way, if you see someone wearing a firefighter uniform, you can only imagine the person is an off-duty firefighter as it’s not an attire you just come across randomly. That’s a distinct feature of coveralls that can stand as differentiation between those and overalls.

I was able to permanently figure out the critical difference between overalls and coveralls by closing my eyes and shutting off every form of distraction. I wrote down five professions I could associate both pieces of clothing with. To my surprise, I couldn’t complete the list of jobs that required wearing overalls. I kept visualizing welders and farmers in the early 70s. This was my moment of clarity.

I realized that coveralls are associated with sensitive jobs, while overalls are for simple tasks around the house and to wear casually. I recommend that you try doing this as well. It would help clarify the mixup between coveralls and overalls.

  1. Material Texture

As a result of its function, coveralls are designed with materials that are suitable for protecting the skin in critical conditions. If you observe firefighters’ uniforms, it is designed to protect the skin even when exposed to extreme heat.

Now, try picturing them wearing overalls. The image that would pop into your head would be blurry because the thought of it is uncanny.

The materials used to produce both garments are different because they serve distinct purposes, which cannot function interchangeably. Doing so would be dangerous.


Which One Should You Choose: Overalls or Coveralls?

You can only choose between overalls and coveralls when you understand the differences between them, their functions, and how well they serve their purposes.

If you need a simple garment that can help you protect your outfit while you redecorate the guest bedroom, fix your lawnmower, or install the cooling unit in your pool house, you simply need a pair of overalls.

On the other hand, if you’re going into a power plant for a routine inspection or you just got a job as a firefighter, you’ll need coveralls because such jobs are safety-conscious. You can’t go out there exposing the upper part of your body.

Once you understand your garment needs, you’ll be able to determine whether you need overalls or coveralls. You can’t make a choice based on assumptions. Pay close attention to the differences addressed in this article. It will help you understand their distinct functions and make a well-informed decision.



Now that you understand the differences between overalls and coveralls, you can’t make blind purchases anymore because you know each garment’s functions and understand why one cannot substitute for the other.

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